Ali, M. P., M. S. Rahman, F. Nowri, S. S. Haque, X. Qin, M. A. Haque, M. M. Uddin, D. A. Landis, and M. T. Howlader. 2021. Salinity influences plant–pest–predator tritrophic interactions. Journal of Economic Entomology 114:1470-1479.
Climate change-induced salinity intrusion into agricultural soils is known to negatively impact crop production and food security. However, the effects of salinity increase on plant–herbivore–natural enemy systems and repercussions for pest suppression services are largely unknown. Here, we examine the effects of increased salinity on communities of rice (Oryza sativa), brown planthopper (BPH), Nilaparvata lugens, and green mirid bug (GMB), Cyrtorhinus lividipennis, under greenhouse conditions. We found that elevated salinity significantly suppressed the growth of two rice cultivars. Meanwhile, BPH population size also generally decreased due to poor host plant quality induced by elevated salinity. The highest BPH density occurred at 2.0 dS/m salinity and declined thereafter with increasing salinity, irrespective of rice cultivar. The highest population density of GMB also occurred under control conditions and decreased significantly with increasing salinity. Higher salinity directly affected the rice crop by reducing plant quality measured with reference to biomass production and plant height, whereas inducing population developmental asynchrony between BPH and GMB observed at 2 dS/m salinity and potentially uncoupling prey–predator dynamics. Our results suggest that increased salinity has harmful effects on plants, herbivores, natural enemies, as well as plant–pest–predator interactions. The effects measured here suggest that the bottom-up effects of predatory insects on rice pests will likely decline in rice produced in coastal areas where salinity intrusion is common. Our findings indicate that elevated salinity influences tritrophic interactions in rice production landscapes, and further research should address resilient rice insect pest management combining multipests and predators in a changing environment.
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